Friday, 24 June 2016

'The Staffordshire Potter' remembered ...part II (1983-1986).

"If Timewarp was a loco it's status would be: Stored Serviceable."

The 'Staffordshire Potter' was one of many evening rover tickets made available within the Stoke division of the LMR during the early 1980's and there was an interesting leaflet to publicise it that advocated a pub crawl by train.

As well as the ticket price slowly rising, the way that most local enthusiasts used the ticket also changed over the years and a short series of four articles has been planned to outline those changes and illustrating how the local services changed too. Part two features the period after 9th January 1983, the first Sunday that the 'Staffordshire Potter' ticket was no longer available and valid for all day travel on Sunday's.

With the loss of that all day validity on Sunday's 'the Potter' ticket appeared to have little use for someone who's main interest in the Railway scene was now haulage 'Bashing' and photography. The ticket was only valid on trains booked to run after 1745 (time off Stoke) and with the area covering the lines between Crewe - Uttoxeter and Stafford - Congleton, the haulage potential seamed rather limited.

A further selection of personal accounts of ‘Potter’s’ follow:

Thursday 29th November 1984.
There had been increasing instances of loco and stock vice Class 120 DMU's substitutes over the Crewe - Derby route during the year. Especially during the Autumn months. It was 2K53 15:25 Derby - Crewe and the 2P28 17:20 Crewe - Derby return that seemed to be most often effected, especially on Fridays for some reason (and that clashed rather badly with 'The Tube', a classic 1980's TV music show, shown on C4, usually featuring some of the bands that I liked at the time). On this day I'd already seen, only by chance, 45142 with a short load 3, work the 2K49 13:20 Derby - Crewe, then returning with the 2E51 15:23 Crewe - Lincoln, (presumably replaced at Derby by DMU?) so I decided to check out 2K53 just in case. There would be no gen available to me, so if I wanted to know what, if any thing was out I had no choice but to wait around in the cold and fast falling darkness just in case it should produce. Often when I made this lonely vigil, I had waited in vane as the booked unit had then appeared, or, if it was a loco it would then be ETH fitted or dud or both. On this occasion when I'd waited I was rewarded by the sight of 25244, also on load 3, and working 2K53. Well, the word was spread, and there was a small gathering waiting for 2P28. As we were about to join, our old mate Steve was about to bale, but upon seeing his reception committee, he elected to stay after all. Once in a nice, warm compo, Steve explained how he had carried out his 'standard move' of a weekly rover, used at the weekend, then each afternoon after working early shift. He'd gone out this occasion and had had little luck, made even worse once he found out he'd missed 45142 on 2K49. Deciding to call it a day, went for the unit home and found... load 3 + 'Rat'! Typical of his luck - always dropping on things!

Onwards into 1985.
The DMU situation settled down somewhat early in 1985, far less hauled substitutes were recorded, and thus, little need for a 'Potter'. But a change to motive power requirements in far off East Anglia, would have a knock on effect that would revive the usefulness of our favourite local 'piece'.

In order to free up some electric locos for the newly electrified London Liverpool Street - Ipswich section of the main line to Norwich a number of cross county turns that had previously been electrically hauled between the West Midlands and Northwest were now through diesel. Two such trains passed Stoke and these were : 1M88 06:25 SX/06:33 SO Poole - Manchester Piccadilly ( from Reading) and 1V16 17:25 Manchester Piccadilly - London Paddington. In those days, pre A50 / Britannia Stadium / Palisade Fencing days, you could get some surprisingly scenic shots, on the mostly spare ground just to south of Stoke in the Sideway area, and so, when ever possible, I would combine photing the 6M72 China Clay's with viewing the northbound 1M88 (due Stoke 1144). Whatever worked 1M88 should then come back on 1V16 (1811 off Stoke) and could be covered on a 'Potter', although it should be said, that the diagram didn't always stick. During the period of the 'Crewe blockade' (02/06/85-21/07/85), once the Stoke - Llandudno started, loco and stock would be provided by Derby. This would not be the usual solid 47/4 and the return working could also be covered on a Potter.

Monday 24th June 1985.
That morning 47257 worked 1M88, 45070 turned up on the clay and departmental Class 40 97408 was a bonus phot on a southbound spoil train. A 'Potter' move was on, because 47362 had worked 1D32 (Llandudno) and 47318 1P90 Blythe Bridge - Blackpool additional, both on top of the expected 47257 on 1V16. Whenever you did 1V16, there was always an anxious wait until you knew for sure that the engine had not been switched... thankfully 47257 did produce as expected. 1V16 was taken to an unusually busy Stafford. Thanks to the Crewe blockade, a number of trains were changing engines here rather than at Crewe and as a result, there were a number of engines stabled, mostly in the yards to the south. Our next move was to take the 'Dino', 304001 on this occasion, to Kidsgrove to await 1K90 Blackpool - Blythe Bridge Additional (running for 'Potter's fortnight') on which we expected 47318. As 47362 was a few minutes behind on the return ex Llandudno and also required, the already sad mileage would need to be split, with 47318 taken for the 3 'bus stop' miles to Longport, for 47362 onwards to Stoke. Three NB's scored in an evening, albeit for sad mileage, but at least they're now 'in the book'.

Tuesday 25th June 1985.
On this day, 47362 was once again 1D32 (Llandudno) with 45068, a big surprise working 1P90 (Blackpool), also very unusual was 47318 out again, this time with an additional Llandudno. 45076 worked the China Clay, then came 'massive' 47299 with 1M88 - so another 'Potter' just had to be done!
As I rushed to the station that evening, I bump into Rob. I pass on 'the gen' : 47299 - 1V16 ; 47362 1K38 ; 45068 1K90 ; 47318 on the additional, and he needs all four! Can he get them all in, he asks? Yes, I explain, but it means he must bale at Kidsgrove, Longport & Etruria - even worse than my move the night before! The anxious wait for 1V16 was even more anxious that usual. For me, the main objective of the evening was 47299 - a massive machine at the time, even more so due to the mystery of just why it was renumbered from 47216. Thankfully, 47299 stuck and came back with 1V16 as booked. The move to Kidsgrove was with 304007. 86314+86319 passed through Kidsgrove with a Southbound liner - very rare in daylight then. Rob (and no doubt other's) left Kidsgove with 47318 on the relief ex Llandudno, while I waited for the Peak on 1K90, which I did to Stoke (Looking at it now, I can't recall why I didn't go to Blythe Bridge)?

Wednesday 26th June 1985.
And this is getting to be a habit! 47403 is 1D32, 47334 1P90, later its 45046 on the China Clay and a disappointing 47449 on 1M88. Still, two required engines out, and you never know, the loco for 1V16 is yet to be switched this week, could this be the first swap of the week? Well... no, because, to everyone's further disappointment 47449 comes back on 1V16. Then, its 304027 to Kidsgrove and I then take 47334 to Longport (1K90) for 47403 to Stoke (1K38).

Tuesday 9th July 1985.
With the Crewe blockade still on, loco and stock for 1D32 is still ex Derby and it produces 47128. 'Potter's Fortnight' is behind us now, so no Blackpool service today. 45013 is the China clay and 47002 works 1M88. That evening I go out and 47002 does works 1V16 as expected and 47128 returns with 1K38 ex Llandudno and so I take it to Stoke. I find out later, that 1K38 was extended to Derby after I'd left. Anyway, two more lines are now in the book.

Thursday 11th July 1985.
47437 was a bit of a dull choice of power for 1D32, but later that morning I was quite pleased to phot 45022 on the China Clay, while large logo / Stag 47467 off Inverness was on 1M88. We were not aware of the engine off 1M88 being swapped and thus not working 1V16 in some time. I wanted 47467, and felt that this would be my best chance of getting it. On this occasion the anxious wait would result in a disappointment of the highest order when it was 47432 that returned on 1V16 and not 47467. One stroke of minor luck though, 1V16 'made the minus' at Stafford into 1H38 1750 Birmingham New Street - Manchester Piccadilly for once, but it was only 86208 and not the always hoped for Roarer that 1H38 often produced. 47437 came back on 1K38 as expected. This evening declared A no-score bore!

Tuesday 16th July 1985.
47326 works 1D32, 47029 does 1M88, and 45004 was the China Clay phot of the day. Two 'Biggies' expected out, so it's another Potter! More disappointment... 47274 comes back on 1V16, everyone else is pleased by this, as it's a Heymarket machine and seen to be even better than 47029 and it is scored by everyone (except by me, had on 1G06) including a couple of lads who didn't even need 47029 anyway. We all do 274 to Stafford, then it's off to Kidsgrove again by Dino. During the fester there, one of the Kidsgrove lads, notices his mate 'Charlie' is on duty at the box. 'Charlie' makes a call as to the whereabouts of 47326 and we are now informed that 47326 has been removed at Llandudno and it is 47069 that is now working 1K38. More disappointment for me then, but at least there were a couple of NB's out and recorded in the moves book.

Wednesday 17th July 1985.
47069 worked 1D32, required 47188 does 1M88 with the China clay a 'no show'. Another day, another swap that's not to my advantage... 47623 comes back with 1V16, while 47069 sticks and works back with 1K38.

There appears no further 'Potter' moves in my records for 1985, it's all rover's and other trips much further afield. With the end of the Crewe remodelling, the Llandudno turn became a regular 47/4 turn once again, and by the end of that summer, 1M88 & the 1V16 return working had become a near 'solid' 47/4 turn too. If they couldn't find a 47/4, they tended to dig up a 31/4 from somewhere instead. All the same, in the new year, a few of us would gather to view 1M88 and record it's passage for history, occasionally going out of an evening to catch 1V16 if it looked promising...

Friday 10th January 1986.
In the 'moves book' appears the entry "85038 Stafford - Stoke 16.25 1H38 1750 Birmingham New Street - Manchester Piccadilly". I must have seen it work south during the afternoon on 1G08, which was the previous leg of the diagram. But I have no memory of this at all...

Thursday 16th January 1986.
...unlike this occasion. By chance I saw 1M88 on this day and was extremely surprised to see it was hauled by 33115! With no gen to be had, with regard 1V16, quite a few of us had gathered to await the 1V16 service, not ever really believing that the massive Crompton would come back, but not wanting to miss out if it did! In the event it was 47450 that did the honours on 1V16 rather than the Crompton, but better safe than sorry and at least we made the minus onto 1H38 that night, which was 85021.

Monday 17th March 1986.
Immingham's 31451 had worked 1M88 that morning. So I covered 1V16 only to find 47610 in charge, by chance, a score. We didn't make 1H38 as usual, but it was only 86219 anyway.

Tuesday 22nd July 1986.
20029+20147 worked the 1525 Nottingham - Crewe (possibly after a Derby start?), the same train had been 45115 the day before, while 31224 had worked the 0840 Crewe - Nottingham on this morning. The word was soon out and a number of us made sure we were on the next Crewe bound service and waiting at Kidsgrove (back again) for the Choppers on the 1737 Crewe - Derby. Once onboard, it was only as we passed our local park and spied Ade walking his dog that we realised no one had called him. All we could do was wave... and he, gestured back at us! Then came anti-climax in the shape of Plastic back home from Uttoxeter.

Thursday 11th September 1986.
We knew this was going to be the last year of the hauled Stoke - Llandudno, and this was to be the last week of all We had found out, well in advance, that last remaining English Electric Class 40, D200, was to be rostered for the final two weeks. The penultimate week went well with D200 performing the full diagram each and every day. The last week did not go quite so well. On Monday the 8th D200 set off as planned, but the return working was cancelled due to a derailment at Llandudno. Tuesday saw 47453 working instead, but D200 was back on diagram and in action on the turn by Wednesday. We also now knew that D200 WOULD NOT now be made available for the last day of the Stoke - Llandudno, it's last appearance, and therefore the last ever appearance of a Class 40 on 1D32 & 1K38 would now take place on September the 11th! That night there was a very large Stoke contingent on the Sprinter to Crewe. Others were already on the train when we joined it... There were quite a few of the local lads whom we had not seen on the railway for several years, while still others were making their first appearance of the year.... Needless to say, 'the Reunion tour' was to prove quite rowdy, but good natured (even the apparent punch-up going on in one of the compos was only 'in fun' and there were no lasting injuries!).

Upon arrival at Stoke, everyone baled and made there way to the engine, with much raucous banter and lots of photos being taken. Some 'normals' wandered up too, wondering what all the fuss was about but not quite getting it. It was, after all, just another train with just another engine... The 'normals' didn't' get it when a big cheer went up as the shunter arrived to hook off. The unfortunate 'Bert' was none other than local legend, Mr Alan Pullen. Now, as part of Al's duties, he often got to hook engines on and off the Llandudno, and, the local lads all knew he'd been getting lots of stick for making heavy weather of it. so, as soon as he appeared, a spontaneous round of applause broke out together with rowdy chorus... "Alan Pullen, Alan Pullen, can you hook this engine off!" Once the engine was hooked off and away from the consist, a bemused Al climbs back on to the platform and instantly he's lifted shoulder high and carried back along the stock towards the rear of the train. All the way, the chanting and singing continues but now it's changed to... "Alan Pullen, Alan Pullen, can you hook this engine on!" Once the rear of the stock is reached, Al is dumped unceremoniously off the platform onto the ballast! The chanting and singing continue as D200 backs onto the stock and is coupled up! More applause for Al! The chanting finally stops and Al makes himself scarce! Not everyone present was local, but they were all singing along just the same. One out of towner, who had been singing and chanting louder than anyone else present then says to me... "Who is Alan Pullen anyway!" Then, with the RA finally given, D200 erupts beneath Stoke's overall roof, that mighty sound almost, but not quite drowned out by the clatter of camera shutters as the English Electric beast departed Stoke's number one platform with the stock of the Llandudno for the final time! The crowd stays just long enough for the sights and sounds of D200 to disappear into the distance before dispersing into the night. The next day, 47459 worked the last ever Stoke - Llandudno and return, not that anyone much, cared at the time...

For further notes on the Stoke - Llandudno follow this link .

Wednesday 3rd December 1986.
With the end of the summer timetable of 1986, a season that, in many ways had been a disappointment to me, because, despite spending more time and money than ever on my railway hobby, the amount of 'quality power' I had caught up with was much less than in previous years. A situation that I realised was almost certainly to continue... I even 'Seriously considered packing it all in', but then, it finally occurred to me that the social side of the hobby was just as important as the engines, and, as long as there was a 'roadshow' and some haulage to be had, it was still worth continuing, and thus I was coaxed out again. Well, 1V16 had been lost to us back in May, so there were no diesels that could be covered on a 'Potter'. So what could be done? Well, I was introduced to 'the Congleton leap' for a start. The 1H20 1700 London Euston - Manchester Piccadilly was the only northbound hauled service to call there and on this occasion 1H20 produced a Roarer in 85019, and so we took it Stoke - Congleton (another big mileage move then!), this must have been my first loco hauled leap there! Then it was back to Stoke on a unit to await 1G76 1921 Manchester Piccadilly - Birmingham New Street. Now, where 1H20 very rarely produced a Roarer, 1G76 was a much better bet, but not on this occasion, because 86252 turned up. It was usually the engine of the 1M50 Brighton - Manchester Piccadilly, and that service was also via Stoke during the afternoon, and so, if anyone was around, it could be viewed? At Stafford off 1G76, we dropped into another Roarer, 85003, working a 1900 London Euston - Carlisle Relief which we took to Crewe. As it wasn't possible to get back to Stafford in time for a hauled train home we took the last Derby service (A Sprinter) home. Although not quite the same as the run out with D200 in September, this had been enjoyable too

'The Staffordshire Potter' remembered part I (1980-1983).
'The Staffordshire Potter' remembered part III (1987-1988).

Does anyone else out there have any 'The Staffordshire Potter' memories?
Please post in the Comments box below.

© 'UD' & 'Clayhead' - Preserving the gen online since 1999...

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